The musings of Mr Monkeysized

Toxoplasmosis and hoping the French lose at the World Cup by monkeysized
June 9, 2010, 09:44
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , ,

At last! Scientific reasoning comes to the aid of our grudges and ill-considered prejudices, just in time for the World Cup. The Economist’s science section introduces us to toxoplasmosis, with the aid of this little picture:

In short, it’s about a parasite that lives in cats and mice at different stages of development. To complete the cycle, when in a mouse it makes the little fellow more vulnerable to being eaten by a cat, making it a little bit dim and courting feline violence. The parasite then moves back into the cat via its stomach.

The interesting bit, however, is that it also affects humans, and makes some of them – how can I put this – more French. Maybe I’m paraphrasing and drawing on my prejudices, but this is World Cup season after all. To quote from the article’s discussion of a researcher’s findings:

The places he looked at ranged from phlegmatic Britain, with a neuroticism score of -0.8 and a Toxoplasma infection rate of 6.6%, to hot-blooded France, which scored 1.8 and had an infection rate of 45%. Cross-Channel prejudices, then, may have an unexpected origin.

In short we can now merrily conflate toxoplasmosis infection rates with everything from simple measures of ‘Frenchness’ through to tendencies to cheat at football, be underhand in general matters and to have women with hairy armpits. Horrible stuff, but at least we can now measure in advance and be forewarned. Soon we’ll be able to apply it to imponderables like suitability as marriage material, likelihood to break fiscal governance rules within the €, and potential for nicking one’s totty while smoking Gitanes and surrendering to the Germans.

For if being monkeysized means anything, it means being able to surrender to our prejudices, at least for the duration of the World Cup.


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